Mental illness is often not work-related, but work can be a place where people are able to find help and support. The workplace can play a key role in recovery from mental health challenges. A positive work environment improves employee wellbeing, morale and productivity. Good work is a positive for mental health.
Creating a supportive work environment also extends to managing issues related to workload, hours, fatigue management, role clarity and leadership.
"This is a conversation we are having with our workforce. We added a question about wellbeing to our twice annual employee survey so we can track how we are doing and address concerns.
"At Rio Tinto we are working hard to create a positive and supportive environment for all employees. There are areas where we believe we are succeeding but it is vital that we continue to increase our efforts to further raise awareness," he says.
"Mental illness is just as real as any other illness. It is not a weakness."
Mental illness is one of the most rapidly growing causes of long-term sickness absence and labour market exclusion across developed countries, despite improved rates of detection and methods of intervention. Studies have suggested that mental health training for managers might help improve occupational outcomes for employees with mental health problems.
In the UK alone, about 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year. These findings in a review commissioned by British Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017, titled the Thriving at Work report, put the annual cost to the UK economy of poor mental health at up to £99bn, of which about £42bn was borne by employers.
"Although the research verifies that mental health is a serious challenge and there are costs to companies and countries, we must not lose sight of the suffering that mental health challenges can cause," says Will.